Archive for the ‘essential oil’ Category

Citronella

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

citronella repelsCitronella and Mosquitoes

Summer time, the period of the year when we all enjoy outdoor festivities.  Whether they be parties, cookouts, hiking, gardening, or just relaxing by the pool; we find reasons to be outside.  We love the gorgeous weather and the warming sun rays.  However, with the fun in the sun that we all seek, with it also comes the dreaded mosquitoes.

When the weather gets warm, these uninvited pesky critters seem to always show up in droves.  Invading not only our space, but feeding off us and our families.  The results of their feast, itchy, red, swollen bumps on our skin.

Mosquitoes have been in existence some 170 million years.  In the United States, there are currently over 175 different species accounted for.  It is safe to say that they are not going to be going any where soon, but there are measures that we can take to help ward off these insects.

Citronella has been known to repel mosquitoes for a long time. Burning citronella candles around the yard or applying bug repelling spray to ourselves can usually do the trick.  But have you ever wondered how this works exactly?

Just like a primal animal, mosquitoes are on the hunt for one thing: FOOD.  And, we are that food source.  Drawn to carbon dioxide (from our exhaling) uric acid (from our blood), and lactic acid (from our sweat glands), insects like mosquitoes are able to smell us up to an amazing 164 feet away.  Once those delectable scents are picked up by the mosquitoes, they are then able to locate us to feed.

It is commonly thought that the scent of citronella repels mosquitoes away.  In fact, studies have shown that when the citronella aroma is in an environment, mosquitoes will land around 40% less times than when it is not present.  But, the fact is mosquitoes will still land.  This is why citronella does not necessarily repel.

Instead, citronella masks.  What this means is that when the scent of citronella (whether by means of a candle or a body spray) is present the 3 most common drawing factors of mosquitoes (carbon dioxide, uric acid, and lactic acid) are covered.  It is almost as if the mosquitoes no longer have the ability to sense us anymore.  And, since they cannot smell us, they will move on to “sweatier pastures” so to speak.

Sure, any of your local grocery stores or super markets have aisles of outdoor summer time displays hosting many different bug repelling products that you can purchase.  You however can make your very own insect repelling/masking items right from your home.  You will know exactly what is in the product, and you will also save money by doing it yourself.

Natures Garden currently has four different citronella oils available.  There is the straight citronella scent, or the citronella java essential oil.  Both of these oils can be viewed by clicking on the individual link.  For those of you that do not like how the scent of straight citronella smells, we also have citronella options for you.  Citronella Berry fragrance oil is a sweeter version of citronella.  This fragrance contains the essential oil of citronella with the combined fruity notes of strawberry, mandarin, and raspberry.  There is also Lime Citronella fragrance oil.  This wonderful fragrance oil is the combination of essential oil of citronella and notes of lemon, fresh lime, and white flowers.

Now, if you are interested in viewing possible candle and body products that you can make with these scents, here are three of Natures Gardens finest bug repelling recipes.  By clicking on the link, you will be able to see the recipe.  Each recipe has the step by step instruction as well as all of the items listed that you will need to make them.
Citronella Soy Wax Candle Recipe
Bug Repelling Candle Recipe
Bug Repelling Body Spray Recipe

These recipes are all easy to make and take very little time to accomplish.  They are great ways to ward off mosquitoes and keep you and your family mosquito bite free this summer.

Gel Phase

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

inhibited gel phase soap In an earlier blog post, we briefly discussed insulation of cold process soap. Through insulating your soap, you are encouraging the best environment for the gel phase to occur during saponification. Keeping the soap evenly heated using insulation will prevent a partial gel from occurring. But, still there are no guarantees. Even with the best insulation, you may still end up with bars of soap that have partial gel evident.

So, what if you prevented the gel phase in your soap?

Although this is possible, it is still not guaranteed. It can be very tough to prevent the gel phase. But, there are some factors that need to be noted to help you in your quest to stop the gel phase. These factors are: the size of your mold, and the various ingredients in your recipe. The saponification process involves heat; it is the nature of the soaping beast. Choosing to eliminate the gel phase will change some elements to your soap and soaping process.

But, before we get to that information, let’s look at some specific reasons to prohibit the gel phase.

First, since you are decreasing the amount of heat that is in your soap, this will allow you to introduce certain soaping ingredients that normally would be finicky. Examples of these heat sensitive ingredients would be: dairy products, heat sensitive colorants; prone to morphing, and fragrances or essential oils with a low flashpoint.

Dairy Products
Soaping with ingredients such as creams, milks, and butters for example will provide your finished bars with rich, extra moisturizing elements. However, soaping with dairy products can be tricky. With the heat that is involved with the saponification process, there is a chance that dairy products will burn. This results in both discoloration and an off smell in your soap. By preventing the gel phase from occurring, you allow these ingredients a fighting chance in soap. And, you can even produce a creamier bar of finished soap.

Colorants
Whether you are deciding to go the natural route with herbs, or using colorants that you worry may morph; preventing gel phase allows the window of opportunity to stay open. Certain herbs discolor or darker from the saponification process. The same is true for some colorants that completely alter like deep purple to brown.

Now, for the colorants in the finished soap when the gel phase is eliminated: the bar colors are bolder and more vivid. Even if you choose not to color your soap batter, the elimination of the gel phase stops the darkening of the fats and oils in your recipe, allowing for a “whiter” finished bar.

Scenting Options
If you do not want to rebatch your soap recipe, preventing the gel phase in your cold process soap may allow you to scent your soap with low flashpoint oils without worrying that the saponification process will eliminate the scent. It is also possible for fragrance or essential oil scents to come through stronger in the soap because of the reduction of heat.

As for what preventing the gel phase means for your soaps, there are key points you should know. First, you must keep your molded soap chilled for the full 24 hours. Depending on your recipe, you may have to keep the soap chilled for an additional 24 hours as well.

Now, when you are ready to unmold your soap, it is crucial to let your molded soap reach room temperature before trying to slice it. Not allowing your soap to be at room temperature before cutting may result with your bars being brittle, and breaking apart as you slice them.

As for the saponification process, since you inhibit the gel phase, it will take your soaps longer to complete the saponification process. What this means is that the soap will need additional cure time before it will be ready to use.

So, whether you choose to insulate or prevent the gel phase, it is really up to personal discretion. Regardless of the method, the result is the same; a finished bar of soap. The only variables that change are the molding environment and the cure time.

Great Herbal Scent

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

great herbal scentDragons Blood Fragrance Oil- Fragrance Oil Spotlight

This exotic and sexy scent is a top selling fragrance for both men and women of all ages.  Having quite a unique and distinctive aroma, Dragons Blood scent is alluring, enticing, and yet still maintains a soft side.  A sweet smell on a smoky background, this exceptional fragrance seems to draw customers to your products.  In fact, many of our customers claim that Natures Gardens Dragons Blood is one of the best versions in the market and this herbal scent is a KEEPER!

What does Dragons Blood Smell Like?

This fragrance oil by Natures Garden smells just like the essential oil. Dragon’s blood truly has a smell all its own.  A Best Seller!

How Do Our Customers Use Dragons Blood Fragrance Oil?

For the candle makers out there; our customers use this phenomenal scent in their Soy, WOW, Joy, and paraffin waxes with remarkable results.  This fragrance oil holds amazing well in both candles and tarts.  In fact, many of our candle making clients state that Dragons Blood has a strong and long lasting throw in their candles.  This herbal scent has also been reviewed to work well in melts, incense, oil burners, and aroma beads too.

For the makers of bath and body products, the usage amount for this fragrance oil is 5%.  It also has a vanillin content of 2.6% so vanilla white color stabilizer is highly recommended to help stabilize discoloration in your final product.  According to our customers, this fragrance oil is a calming and warm musky aroma that their customers love.  It has been used to make:  Melt and Pour soaps, lotions, scrubs, bath bombs, shaving balms, bath gels, and even hair conditioner.  Finally, for those of you that are cold process soapers, this herbal scent soaps like a dream and the scent holds extremely well.  Here are the official results:  Very, very strong scent.  Perfect Pour, no ricing, no acceleration.  Final discoloration is a nice milk chocolate.  Beautiful.

Shea Melt and Pour Soap

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

shea butter melt and pour soap It is really easy to make Shea melt and pour soap!

Melt and Pour Soap is one of the easiest and most fun ways to make a homemade product.  This type of soap making is an ideal venture for many reasons.

Melt and Pour soap projects are a great family activity to do with children; creating an enjoyable family time crafting together.
These soaps are a remarkable and memorable treat to give out as party favors, or gifts for loved ones and friends.
And, the fact that melt and pour soap is so easy to work with; no matter what your skill level you can create extraordinary works of art that are fun to wash with too.

So, regardless of the reason for making Melt and Pour Soap, one thing is for sure; you will love how the finished product leaves your skin feeling clean, soft, and supple.

Shea melt and pour soap differs from store bought brands in that it is not drying or harsh on your skin.  This soap base is detergent free, SLS free, and gluten free.  The Shea Butter melt and pour soap base is filled with superb skin loving agents like:

  • Shea butter which is ultra conditioning and nourishing.
  • Coconut oil which provides a wonderful bubble filled lather.
  • Sunflower oil, which acts as an amazing moisturizing agent for your skin.  In fact, sunflower oil also adds an even bigger element of a rich, creamy, and bubbly lather.
  • Glycerin, which works as an astonishing cleansing emulsifier.  It helps to lift dirt, oil, and impurities up and away from your skin.  This allows the everyday dirt and grime to easily be whisked away.  Plus, glycerin is also a humectant.  This means that it can actually drawl moisture from the air and pull it to the skin.

Besides all of the healthy and nourishing aspects to Shea melt and pour soap; there is also a beautiful artistic side to it too.  The adventure as to where you take your soaps is defined only by you; the crafter.  Shea melt and pour soap is fool proof.  It can be heated time and time again, without losing its integrity.

You can cater your soap to your specific like through shape, color, and scent.  You can even take your soap making skill to the next level by the addition of other skin loving attributes or additives.  Natures Garden carries all of the ingredients you need to add luxurious elements like rich cocoa butter or antioxidant packed vitamin E.  Through the addition of herbs like oatmeal, calendula flowers, rose petals, lavender flowers, paprika powder, or poppy seed, you can provide natural exfoliation.  Not only will your soap bar benefits exceed expectations, but you will also be adding a unique look, feel, and dimension to your soaps.

If we have you super excited about the possibility of making Shea soap or possibly other body products; but you still have unanswered questions, Natures Garden is here to help.  You can visit our website for free creative recipes and tips that have been tried and tested.  We also have in depth classes with step by step instruction for beginner soap makers.  And, you can always contact us via email, or connect with us on Facebook.

Hippie Hair Conditioner

Friday, January 17th, 2014

happy hippie hair conditionerThe hippies may have stumbled upon something with their love of patchouli.  This natural herb does wonders for your body.  Not only is it amazing for your skin, promoting a lustrous glow, but it also has many antiseptic properties.  Besides the skin benefits, patchouli can also help in the hair department.  Patchouli can actually be used in the fighting of dandruff.

In order to best harness the anti-dandruff powers of patchouli, we decided that a patchouli oil infusion was in order.  This would then allow all of the medicinal anti fungal benefits of patchouli to be transferred through infusion into an oil.  Now, this oil, as opposed to the herb, was something that we could easily work with for a hair conditioner recipe.  Sometimes, as awesome as an herb is, the form that it is widely available in does not always suite it in the means of bath and body products.  For these types of situations; where an herb is needed, but not physcially desired in its form, the solution is an herbal oil infusion.

There are various ways to make an herbal infusion.  To see these different ways, please click here.

Please Note:  For this Hippie Hair Conditioner Recipe, you will need to make your patchouli oil infusion 4 weeks prior to making the hair conditioner.  Allowing the patchouli to steep for 4 weeks will permit the strongest oil infusion possible.  With oil infusions, the longer the herb is allowed to steep, the stronger the oil infusion will become.

To view all of the steps to make your very own homemade patchouli oil infusion, please click here.

Now, once you have your patchouli infused oil, you are now ready to make your very own Hippie Hair Conditioner.

Here are the ingredients you will need:
20 grams of your Patchouli Infused Oil
25 grams of  VEGETABLE GLYCERIN
25 grams of BTMS 25 Emulsifier
5 grams of OPTIPHEN – Preservative
5 grams of VITAMIN E OIL (Tocopherol T-50) Natural

For this recipe, temperature will be very important.  This is especially true for the step that includes adding the optiphen.  To best monitor this, we suggest using a THERMOMETER.

For an amazing natural scent, we will be using both Patchouli Essential Oil, and Lavandin Grosso Pure Essential Oil.  You will need 5 grams of Patchouli Essential Oil and 10 grams of Lavandin Grosso Pure Essential Oil for this recipe.

For packaging once the hippie hair conditioner is made, we suggest:  8 oz. Clear Boston Round Bottles with Black Lotion Pumps 24/410 for easy use of your product.  This recipe will make a total of (2) 8oz. bottles of hippie hair conditioner.

Other equipment that you will need for this recipe:
425 grams of Distilled Water
Scale- to weigh out your ingredients
Stove- for heating purposes
(2) Small Pots
Large Pot- for double boiler method
Large Mixing Bowl
Stick Blender- highly recommended for best emulsion.
Spatula

And now, the steps:

As when making any formulation for bath and body products, it is very important to have a clean and sanitized work area.  You also want to have all of your equipment out and ready for when you need it.

The first step in making this recipe is the water phase.  Get your distilled water and weigh it out.  Once you have the correct amount, transfer the water into one of your small pots.  Place the pot onto one of your stove top burners and begin to heat.  You want your water to reach 180 degrees Fahrenheit.  Use your thermometer to monitor this.  Once you reach this temperature, you will want to continue to heat your water for an additional 20 minutes.  This ensures that your distilled water is bacteria free.  When the 20 minutes has expired, turn off the burner, and carefully remove the pot from the heat source.  Set aside.

The next step is what is considered the oil phase.  For this phase, we will be using the double boiler method to heat our ingredients.  Now, get your large pot and place at least 3-4 inches of tap water into it.  Set this pot onto one of your stove top burners.  Turn the heat temperature on a lower setting.  While the tap water is heating up, it is time to weigh out your ingredients.  In the other small pot, weigh out the BTMS, vegetable glycerin, vitamin E oil, and finally the patchouli oil infusion.  Once all of these ingredients are in the small pot, carefully place the small pot into the larger one.  Once all of the ingredients are in a liquid state, once again get your thermometer.  You want the temperature of the ingredients to reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit.  Once you have reached this degree, check the distilled water temperature.  You want your distilled water temperature to be around 140 degrees as well.  The two temperatures must be close to one another for the next step to occur.

The next step in this recipe is the Mixing Phase.  Once the degrees of both the ingredients and the water are close to one another, it is safe to mix.  Please note:  You will want to move quickly for this phase.  In your large mixing bowl, place both the ingredients and the water together.  Get your stick blender and start to mix it.  You will want to periodically use your spatula to clean the sides of the bowl.  Continue to stick blend until you notice your mixture is starting to turn white.  This means that the conditioner is starting to emulsify.  It is now time to check the temperature again.

For the final step or cool down phase you are looking for the magical degree of 120F.  This is the safest temperature to add the optiphen.  Once you hit this degree, weigh out and add your optiphen preservative.  Next, add your essential oils.  Mix well with your stick blender, and do not forget to scrap the sides of your bowl with the spatula.  Once the conditioner has been thoroughly blended, allow it to cool at room temperature.

Once the hhippy hair conditionerair conditioner has cooled, it is safe to bottle and lid.

Your Hippie Hair Conditioner is now ready to use.  Enjoy!

Natures Garden is not responsible for the performance of any of the recipes provided on our website. Testing is your responsibility. If you plan to resell any recipes we provide, it is your responsibility to adhere to all FDA regulations. If there are ingredients listed in a recipe that Natures Garden does not sell, we cannot offer any advice on where to purchase those ingredients.

Patchouli Uses

Friday, January 10th, 2014

patchouli herb cut and siftedPatchouli Uses

Traditionally, patchouli has always been a valuable element to the eastern Asia and India incense industry.  However, it was not until the 1960’s that both patchouli oil and patchouli incense rose in popularity in Europe and the United States.  This climb in demand was majorly contributed to the hippie movement of that time.

Because the hippie movement focused on a more natural and simpler way of living, many hippies wore the scent of patchouli because it signified nature.  Although it may be argued patchouli was worn to cover up the smell of weed.  This pungent yet unique aroma has a heavy musty and earthy odor that was easily distinguished.   Hippies wore this scent to stand up to the conservative environment of that time.  They saw this scent as a way of marking themselves as new age thinkers; a then outside of the box notion.  Not only did the aroma embrace the new age thinking, but also the sought after change for the world.  Patchouli however, is more than just the time capsule scent of the hippie era.

Patchouli has an array of versatile uses. It is used in the medical, skincare, perfume, home scenting, dietary, and even cleaning industries.  Depending on how you plan to use patchouli, the form differs in the type of patchouli you need.

Patchouli is available in many different forms.  You can use patchouli as an herb.  The herb is readily available in whole leaf form or in the c/s form which means cut and sifted.  Patchouli is also available as an absolute and an essential oil.  Synthetically, patchouli is accessible as fragrance oil as well, and you will be able to also find varieties of the fragrance too like Sweet Patchouli fragrance oil for example.

A vital component to the perfume industry, patchouli is considered a chypre.  A chypre is regarded as a group of related fragrances with specific top notes, middle notes, and bases notes denoting them.  This group is distinguished as a contradiction of a citrus accord (typical the top note- first one smelled) and the woody base (the anchor for the fragrance).  A very popular fragrance group for both feminine and masculine smells, patchouli is considered fundamental in various scents.

Perfumery/ Scent Industry:

This widely used scent is a foundation for many perfumes and fragrance oils.  It is considered a base note from which many different fragrances are layered and formulated.  Because of the fact that patchouli oil actually improves with aging, many perfumeries favor working with the eldest oils to ensure a full bodied, longer lasting scent in their end aromas.

One of the best attributes of the scent of patchouli is that it easily blends with a variety of other fragrance notes.  These other scents are basil, geranium, vetiver, cedarwood, clove, rose, lavender, myrrh, sandalwood, bergamot, juniper, and pine; just to name a few.

In India, authentic Indian shawls carried the prevalent scent as well as Indian ink.  Some examples of items in the United States that have been scented with patchouli are:  paper towels, laundry detergents, herbal sachets (in oil form and herb form), candles, incense, bath and body products, cosmetics, and even toys.  A little fun fact about patchouli: Mattel, a large toy company, once used patchouli oil in their product line to scent an action figure character named Stinkor.

Medicinal/Healing:

The amazing medical advantages of patchouli have been used by the people of the Orient for millennia.  Patchouli has long been used as an insect repellant (insecticide), aid in digestive conditions (digestive aid for nausea, constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, hemorrhoids), combat infections (anti-infectious, natural anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antimicrobial, antiseptic), and is even used for snake bites (antitoxic).  Patchouli can even help to speed up the time it takes to heal a wound, or insect bite.

Patchouli can be used as an excellent diuretic.  Not only does it help the body to release excess fluid and water retention, but it can also be used to assist in weight loss.  It is believed that the aroma of patchouli even helps to reduce appetite.

It is also believed that by simply inhaling the aroma of patchouli, it can help to reduce hypertension.  This method works by sending the brain messages through the limbic system which can directly control the nervous system.  Through means of aromatherapy, patchouli can help to control heart rate, blood pressure, and can moderate breathing.

Patchouli also works as a feel good tonic.  Affecting the overall health and well being of a person, patchouli assists in the feel good mood of a person.  But, patchouli powers don’t stop there, it also assimilates toxins as well and helps to remove them from the body with it diuretic ability.

The scent of patchouli is also documented and believed to help fight anxiety and depression.  This is because the aroma supposedly helps to relax the mind and keep it in the present.  Patchouli is considered to clarify thought and release mental anguish of the uncontrollable while balancing the emotions.

Skincare/ Body Care

Patchouli is quite popular in skincare products because of its versatility.  Patchouli helps to inhibit wrinkles and sagging in the skin.  This is because patchouli oil is actually a very effective tissue regenerator.  The use of the oil on your skin encourages the growth of new skin cells, which then replace the damaged ones; keeping your skin looking healthy and youthful.  It is due to these same benefits that patchouli oil can even assist in the fading of scars, and can even help with the reduction of cellulite.

A powerful astringent that even tones the skin, patchouli works to eliminate any surplus of fluids from the body’s tissues.  Plus, with patchouli’s antiseptic powers, it is able to find the source of inflammation, and cool it down.  This is why patchouli is a compelling substance in fighting and preventing mild acne occurrences, even lessening the changes for a return breakout.  The same can be said for other skin conditions like dermatitis, eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis.

Becoming ever so popular in the 1960’s as a deodorant, patchouli works great at masking body odors.  Patchouli essential oil can even be to eliminate scalp disorders like dandruff.

Natures Garden provides this information about patchouli for educational purposes only.  Nothing we mention should be construed as medical advice or for medical treatment purposes.   Please consult your doctor before using any herbs for treatment or other medicinal purposes.

Patchouli

Friday, January 10th, 2014

patchouli essential oil Facts about Patchouli

In America, when most people hear the word patchouli, they immediately think of hippies, universal love for one another, and tie dyed peace signs. But patchouli is so much more than that and has quite an interesting history.

Deriving its name from the Tamil language (the official dialect of Singapore and Sri Lanka), patchouli means “green leaf”.  A robust and extremely fragrant plant; especially when rubbed, patchouli’s scent has been used for centuries in perfumes.

Belonging to the genus Pogostemon, patchouli is a green, leafy herb that is in the mint family.  Growing best in hot, tropical climates; patchouli thrives when it is not in direct sunlight and has the potential of reaching a height of 2-3 ft.  Contrary to common belief, patchouli is more than just leaves; the plant also has flowers that bloom in late fall.  These flowers produce seeds that can be harvested to produce even more patchouli plants.

There are two ways to grow patchouli.  The first is to attain cuttings from the mother plant.  These cuttings are then rooted in water and will cultivate additional patchouli plants.  The second way to grow patchouli is to plant the seeds of the flowers.  The only hesitance with this way is that patchouli seeds are very small and have to be handled with great care.  These seeds are extremely fragile and can be easily crushed, deeming them useless.

When it comes to harvesting patchouli, the leaves of the plant can be collected several times in one year.  However, the strongest scent/oil comes from the top 3-4 pairs of leaves in the patchouli plant.  In order to attain the extraction of patchouli essential oil from these leaves, the leaves must go through a steam distillation process.  This is typically achieved with dried patchouli leaves.  However, there are some claims that to achieve the highest quality of patchouli essential oil, fresh leaves should be distilled.  Ideally, close to where the leaves are harvested, ensuring true freshness.

There are other ways to obtain patchouli essential oil.  One is through a fermentation process.  This process involves bundling the dry patchouli leaves and allowing them to ferment for a long period of time.

The essential oil of patchouli is a rich, earthy aroma with a woody yet minty undertone.  One of the most notable characteristics of this essential oil is that it actually improves over time.  The two most sought out components of patchouli essential oil are patchoulol and norpatchoulenol.

Although, it is true that patchouli essential oil is vital to the perfume industry, patchouli also had another massive worth in history.  Patchouli is believed to be an insect repellent.  It was common place for silk traders of the oriental to pack the valuable silk that they were trading with dried patchouli leaves.  Not only did the leaves prevent the mating of moths on the traders’ silk, but also hindered the moth from laying eggs on the precious silk as well.

This practice, which had started as a means of protection for the silk, ended with patchouli being considered an affluent scent.  Historians now hypothesize that due to the fragrant nature of patchouli; much of the traded silk acquired the aroma during the long travel.  Before long the distinguished scent of patchouli marked authenticity in traded fabric goods although the vast majority did not know what it was called.

One of the possible explanations as to why patchouli was considered an upscale scent to Europeans of that time is due to a notable historical conqueror.  The infamous Napoleon Bonaparte attained some of these patchouli scented cashmeres, through his vast travels to Egypt.  He then brought them back to France.  This mysterious scent of patchouli and its origin were kept secret, and it was not until the year 1837, that the smell and the source were identified to the remainder of the western world.

Top 50 Soap Making Blogs

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

soap making blogs

Soap making has grown from a hobby, to a seriously competitive trade that attracts new talent all the time. The trick is finding the right soap making blogs to get the best recipes, ingredient list, tutorials, and expert advice to learn the pro’s tips on soap making. What I have created is the ultimate online resource that compiles the best of the best soap making blogs into one post.

I wanted to create a quality resource for people seeking information about soap making so I’ve collected what I believe to be some of the top soap making blogs out there. I endorse them so much that I’ve created a badge for them to display and be endorsed as one of the top soap making blogs on the Internet. The order below is not in any particular order. They are all #1 in my eyes.

Best Soap Making Blogs

1. Evik – The Curious Soapmaker – Evik has been making soap since she accidentally discovered a natural soap making book while browsing her favorite book store. Suddenly, she became more interested in a natural lifestyle and became a vegetarian and started learning more about the products and ingredients she was using in her every day life. Learn from her passion for soapmaking, the importance of selecting the proper ingredients, and basic recipes tutorials and principles.

2. Jennifer Young – Jennifer has a successful business of soaps, lip balms, salves and more. What makes her, and her blog, stand out are the four principles she runs her business by: she enjoys what she does, only uses natural ingredients in her products, supports the local community and economy, and treats the environment well. Kuddos to you Jennifer!

3. Amanda Griffin – Amanda shares her passion for soap making, and her gratitude for being a part of the “soaping” community. She loves all things soap, including talking, sharing, and teaching soap making. Follow her site for handmade soap, bath and body products, reviews, interviews, how-to’s and more.

4. Ruth Esteves – Ruth was trained as a laboratory assistant, and found herself craving more creativity in her life. She fused her passion for soapmaking with a career, and has successfully combined her talents for a business that “feeds her soul,” since 2006. Now she sells, teaches, and speaks about soapmaking and has even recently published her first eBook.

5. Rebecca Dillon – Soap Delicatessen is a one woman operation that has been running since 2001. She started out making soap as an alternative to commercial brands that often irritated her very sensitive skin. Over a decade later, now she creates her own unique recipes for various skin and bath products and sells them on her site.

6. Rene Whitlock – Rene started with aromatherapy and essential oils before she discovered her love for soap making. Now she passionately shares her discovery for better ingredients, natural products, and converting commercial product consumers to products more beneficial for their skin and the planet.

7. TheSoapBar.com – The Soap Bar is a fun spot for the soap makers out there. This site is loaded with contests, challenges, creative new tips and ideas, and wonderful tutorials to keep your soap making fresh and inspired. Follow along for wonderful recipes and a fun community of soap makers.

8. TheSoapMagician - Sharon has done her homework and has plenty of certificates to prove it. She has been making soap for well over a decade, and has no plans on stopping. Share her fountain of knowledge from aromatherapy to holistic uses of herbs, and how she incorporates all that into soap making.

9. TheSoapSister.com – This country gal loves her handmade soap and she can’t deny it! Her soap, Heirloom, is featured in local shops and on etsy. She shares the joys of soapmaking, making a messing, learning the tricks, and more on her oh-so-passionate blog.

10. TierraVerdeSoaps.com – A true self-proclaimed soap nerd, this mom has an entrepenurial spirit and a true talent at that. Follow her exploration of soap making where art meets science. Beautiful pictures are always the end result that you’ll find yourself wishing you could smell through your computer screen.

11. Stacie – Another successful business created as the result of a suffering tale of overly sensitive skin. Stacie’s first line of products resulted in her true love for sharing her results with others and the benefits she discovered in natural soaps. Share her recipes and learn about her new products, and cute crafts, on this charming site.

12. Angela – Angela, and her husband Brian, are the savvy creators of this blog that will educate and inspire you to spend more time together creating healthier, more natural products for you and your family. Browse their recipes and tutorials; it’s a great place to get started at making your own soaps.

13. SoaphisticatedLady.com – Beginner soap makers rejoice; here is the perfect spot for you to try your talent at soap making. Learn the basic process of melt-and-pour (MAP) soap making, and new tips and tricks “not available anywhere else.” A wonderful place to learn recipes, colors, and fragrance tips for your first, or twentieth batch of soaps.

14. Gavin Webber – Gavin’s site is delightfully personal, refreshingly real, and absolutely inspiring. He deems himself an ordinary man that had a sudden epiphony while watching a documentary and seriously overhauled his life. Follow his progressively shrinking carbon footprint, and marvel at his conversion to a green life.

15. TheNerdyFarmWife.com – A true self-proclaimed soap nerd, this mom has an entrepenurial spirit and a true talent at that. Follow her exploration of soap making where art meets science. Beautiful pictures are always the end result that you’ll find yourself wishing you could smell.

16. Tiggy – Future Primitive Soap Co.’ is Tiggy’s blog to share, and sell, her fine bath goods and aromatic oils. With names as catchy as the ingredients list, you will likely be as intrigued as you are curious. Inspire the soapmaker in you, or buy from the creator of soaps like, “Mama Didn’t Listen So I Told The Bees soap.”

17. Annie – Follow Annie’s adventures through soap making and “other things.” Shop her homemade lip balms, custom cupcake soaps, and body butters. She posts her creations on her blog, often swaying reading over to her “shop,” section linking to her good-enough-to-eat etsy store where she sells all of her fabulous creations.

18. Jenny – From melt-and-pour soap making to cold process soap, Jenny shares her hobbyist adventures in all things soapy. Follow her recipes through candle making, soaps of all colors and styles, and even men’s shaving cream.

19. BurntMill.com – This busy crafter may slack on the updates, but certainly not on the content. Follow some amazing recipes for colorful soaps. Learn how to make soap for a baby or bridal shower from start to finish, or give soap to friends and family and save some money this holiday.

20. SoapAndRestless.com – Did you know pictures of soap could literally make your mouth water? If you don’t believe me, check out ‘Soap and Restless,’ and just scroll through the photos. Those soaps are so beautifully made they honestly look good enough to eat. What’s not to love that the recipes, and plenty of tips and tricks, are shared for readers to delightfully attempt to recreate.

21. Erin Nute – Erin has learned the in’s and out’s of soap making and is happy to share her successes, and failures, so that you can create your own natural products. She’ll teach you layering techniques, color tips, and even how to make a long-lasting bar of soap. If you like what you read, you can pick up her new book, “Soap Making Made Easy.”

22. Patrice – Even those that don’t make soaps will fall in love with Patrice’s blog. She shares her passion for soap making, candle making, bath goods, and oil, but her personality is what keeps you coming back for more. Patrice has been at it for years, so share what she’s learned and have fun!

23. Bianca – This Brooklyn-based beauty is a full-time designer and hobbyist soap maker. Her blog is a meeting place for the best of both of her talents; where soap making meets design. Eye candy for the masses here, but definitely visual inspiration for the soap makers and designer readers.

24. Claudia Mold – Follow a busy mom of six through crafting projects, soap making, cooking, of raising her kids. Learn the recipe behind her “happy,” rainbow soap, or her mouth-watering handmade cheeseburger.

25. Erica Pence – Erica’s blog is more inspiration than the secrets of soap making, and if I were you, I’d listen. This business woman is savvy, successful, and passionate about what she does. She shares all of her interests from bath and body, to candles and business advice. Need more? Check out her tutorials and contests.

26. HorseOPeaceRanch.com – What a fun story behind this successful soap making business. After deciding to use some leftover goat’s milk to make some soap, an event 10 days later led to the first selling and teaching of soap making. Business officially began just months later, and has been a success ever since.

27. Magdoline – Addicted to Soap,’ started out of a mom’s need to help her eczema diagnosed children heal their sensitive skin. An encouraging husband pushed her to start selling her beautiful creations, and alas, a business was born. Browse the site, take a class, discover the joy of soap making.

28. LionAndRoseSoap.com – Handmade soap is an art, a hobby, but most importantly a passion. ‘Lion and Rose Handmade Soap,’ has them all. Share in the day-to-day family life behind this soap-making mom, and enjoy her honest opinion, recipes, and delightful creations on her site.

29. Aunt Nancy – Aunt Nancy’s blog is chock-full of homemade soap recipes. From pumpkin soap, to oatmeal & honey goat milk soap, you’ll have enough recipes here to keep you busy for an entire year (and more!)

30. Amy Warden – Amy’s soap is a work of art. If you have a few minutes and want some inspiration, I highly recommend going to her website and reviewing the amazing concoctions she has created. Absolutely stunning!

31. Tatania – Tatania’s soap is so beautiful it looks more like artisan fudge. I’d caution you against making her banofee pie soap as you really might confuse it for fudge!

32. Cee – Cee’s soap recipes are so unique! Pumpkin maple soap… Doesn’t get any better than that for fall, does it? How about a gift for mom of cocoa butter soap with lavender and lemon infused oil? My goodness! A must bookmark blog.

33. Jennifer – Add Jennifer to your list of soap blogs you must follow. From peppermint bark soap to polka dot themed apple, peach & cinammon, her soap recipes will inspire you for hours.

34. HomeMadeBathProducts.com – HomeMadeBathProducts is a site I know you will love! The writers feature great recipes and products from around the web.

35. Angela – Jamaican vanilla café, Hummingbird, Hula Hula… Angela’s soap names are as unique as the soap itself. Great photos and great blog… Just wish she provided more of her recipes.

36. Sabons Carmeta – This Spanish soap blog features beautiful soap recipes… From lavender and shea to Marigold… You won’t be disapointed by Sabons Carmeta.

37. Celine – Celine’s soap looks like it could be decoration in a pop movie. Full of sparkles, ridges & beauty, you’ll be hard-pressed to find more bubbilicious soap photos than hers.

38. Sue – Although the content has rarely been updated over the last few years, this blog features beautiful soap that you just must look into.

39. T.A. Helton – I Just love what T.A. Helton does with her blog. Occasionally you’ll see her featuring ‘soap porn’ so you can admire the greatest soaps she makes on her site, from apples & oak to bay rum spice… we love it all!

40. Elizabeth – Elizabeth shares her soap making adventures on this blog and we love it! She even shares how she uses her Vitamix for soap making (And for smoothies!).

41. Julia – Julia’s Spanish soap making blog is amazing. Beautiful designs, photos, packaging… You get the entire package here.

42. Milla – Milla not only shares photos of her end results, but even creates videos of how she prepares her soap. Definitely worth a read!

43. Super Soapers – Super Soapers is amazing: They feature soap artists every month to help inspire and educate you. This is one you must bookmark.

44. Ana Maria – Ana Maria shares her soap making adventures in this Spanish soap making blog. Just wish there were more recipes to accompany her beautiful photos

Our Favorite Soap Recipes

45. Nina Nelson – Nina shares her recipe for a homemade herbal bar soap here. She uses marshmallow root and calendula petals to make this bar soap very soothing and healing.

46. Allyson – Allyson shares 3 homemade dish soap recipes. They are all natural and quick and easy to make. She leaves out essential oils, but you can easily toss some lavender, cinnamon, peppermint or anything your heart desires in and it will work perfectly.

47. Stephanie – Pink grapefruit soap! Love it! Stephanie shares this unique soap recipe idea here. We definitely encourage you to try it.

48. Liz Marie – Liz has been using a DIY laundry soap recipe for over a year. After a year of refining her recipe, she finally has made it perfect and shares her secrets with you.

49. Clare – Another goat milk recipe! This time with orange and calendula. Thanks, Clare, for the great inspiration!

50. Brandy – Brandy shares her homemade poppy seed soap recipe here… I can’t wait to give this a go. Her photos are beautiful and the end result is even more gorgeous.

Soap Making with Milk

Monday, October 14th, 2013
cleopatra1

This cold process soap was made with heavy whipping cream. These bars have a very luxurious, creamy, lather and is super nourishing for your skin.

Soap Making with Milk

In today’s market, some of the most popular cold process soap recipes are the ones that involve dairy products such as milks, creams, and yogurts.  The reasoning behind this popularity is the fact that cold process soap recipes that use dairy products actually result in finished bars that are very creamy, luscious, soothing, and moisturizing.  In fact, milk itself is a gentle exfoliant- a perfect remedy for any sensitive skin types.  This is because milk contains lactic acid, which slightly reduces the alkalinity of soap.

When it comes down to making the cold process soap recipe, dairy products can be added (if applicable) in 3 forms:
1. Fresh (can be added as water for the lye solution, part of the water for lye solution, added to your room temperature oils before the lye solution, or  added at light trace.)
2. Powdered (combined with a small amount of oil or water to make a liquid- then added at light trace and hand whisked in until incorporated.)
3. Canned (used as half the water amount of the water ratio.  This is usually added to oils before the lye solution to make the soap batter.)

With the exception of the powdered, both the fresh and canned are commonly used in a frozen or slushy (almost frozen) state.  This is done for two reasons.  The first is to help control the lye solution temperature and the second is to help prevent the dairy product from burning.  Burnt dairy products have a very distinct smell and will turn your soap batter a bright orangish color.  This is due to the heated lye solution caramelizing the sugars in the milk.  A great step to help minimize this reaction is to give the container you are mixing your lye solution in an ice bath.  The other option that you have is to add the frozen/slushy dairy product at trace, allowing the batter to thaw the frozen like diary product.  Then, blend well with a stick blender to incorporate.

Temperature is everything.

One of the most important things to realize when working with dairy products is their sensitivity to heat.  This comes into play if you are mixing all or some of the dairy product to make the lye solution (which heats as the reaction is taking place.)  Dairy products will burn and/or curdle if not combined correctly.  The best way to combat this is to closely monitor the temperature of the lye solution using a thermometer.  You never want the temperature to go above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  The other tip to help control the heat of the lye solution is to take your time when adding the lye.  Sprinkle in small amounts and stir.  The key is to wait a few minutes in between the next small addition of lye again.  Do not be afraid to truly take your time with this step.  A good time gauge to set for yourself is 10-15 minutes to add all of the lye to the lye solution.  This will help control the overall temperature of the lye solution.

There is no set rule as to how much of the dairy product to use as the water portion of the lye solution.  Some soapers prefer to use the dairy as the full water portion.  Others play it safe by using a 50% ratio (half milk and half water.)  This works by making a super concentrated lye solution (the full amount of lye the recipe calls for; then split the water amount in half.  Mix the lye into the water.  Let cool.  Add the rest of the unused water portion as the milk- which is added to the room temperature oils before the lye solution is added to make the batter.  The last option is the dairy product at 25% of the water ratio.  This is done the same way as the 50% ratio, only it is 25% of the total water amount.

The rest of the soaping recipe is done normally.

Other things to consider:

Superfatting may be affected.  Do not forget to figure in the fat percentage of the dairy product.  For the most part, general milk products (where the fat percentage is 4-6%), really won’t affect your end bar.  However, using a product like heavy whipping cream (which has a fat of 36%) will directly affect your end bar.  In this instance, you may what to use the dairy portion of 25% of your water ratio.  That is unless you play with your superfatting percentage number.

Rancidity of your soap is always a possibility when using larger portions of dairy products in your recipe; especially those that have high fat content.

Our Findings:

Recently, we tried our hand at making cold process soap with the addition of heavy whipping cream.  For our recipe, we selected the cream to be 25% of our water ratio since we did not want to majorly superfat our soap.  The frozen heavy whipping cream was added to our soaping oils/butter before the lye solution.  We found that this method worked perfectly.  We had no issues with the remaining soap procedures.

In the end, the bars that resulted were exactly as we imagined- pure creamy bliss!  And, with all of the wonderful nourishing benefits that dairy products have; our skin loved it too.

Too see the full recipe for Natures Garden’s Cleopatra Heavy Cream Cold Process Soap Recipe, click on the link.  Or, you can also find the recipe on Natures Garden’s website under the Free Recipes and Classes area.

Emerald Green 2013 Color of the Year

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Emerald Green 2013 Color of the Year

pantone color of the year 2013
According to Pantone, Emerald Green is the color of 2013, and this polyvore set really screams…GREEN!!  Peppermint essential oil from Natures Garden was featured in this polyvore set, and I just love it!   Personally, I am a Lime Green girl myself, but I can understand why emerald green is the color of the year for 2013.  After several “rocky” economic years in the US, accompanied by the potential “end of the world” scenario predicted by the Mayans, people are seeking balance and harmony in their lives; a rebirth if you will.  Green is a color that encompasses both of these feelings.  In addition, there is a trend towards seeking a simpler life, getting back to our roots, and an overall appreciation for nature.  So…YOU GO GREEN…I love ya!
Deborah Ward
Natures Garden